My name is Kylie Hutchinson. I am an independent evaluation consultant with Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation. In addition to evaluation consulting and capacity building, I tweet at @EvaluationMaven and co-host the monthly evaluation podcast, Adventures in Evaluation along with my colleague @JamesWCoyle.
When I started out in evaluation 26 years ago, I was focused on being a good methodologist and statistician. After deciding to work primarily with NGOs I learned the importance of being a good program planner. Employing a participatory approach required me to become a competent facilitator and consensus-builder. These days, the increased emphasis on utilization and data visualization is forcing me to upgrade my skills in communications and graphic design. New developments in mobile data collection are making me improve my technical skills. A recent foray into development evaluation has taught me the important role that a knowledge manager plays in evaluation. Finally, we are starting to understand evaluation capacity development as a process rather than a product, so now I need expertise in organizational development, change management, and the behavioral sciences. Whoa.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Every day I wake up and think how lucky I am to have picked such a diverse career as evaluation. But with all these responsibilities on my plate, my toolbox is starting to get full and sometimes keep me awake a night. How can I manage to be effective at all of these things? Should I worry about being a Jack of all trades, Master of none?
Hot Tip: You don’t have to do it all. Determine your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Pick several areas of specialization and ask for assistance with the others. This help may come in the form of other colleagues or departments. For example, if you think you need help with change management, sub-contract an organizational development consultant to your team. If you work in an organization with a communications or graphic design department, don’t forget to call on their expertise when you need it.
Hot Tip: Take baby steps. If you want to practice more innovative reporting, don’t assume you have to become an expert in communication strategies overnight. Select one or two new skills you want to develop annually and pick away at those.
Hot Tip: If you can, strategically select those evaluations that will expose you to a new desired area, e.g. mobile data collection or use of a new software.
Rad Resource: Even if you’re not Canadian, the Canadian Evaluation Society’s Competencies for Canadian Evaluation Practice provide a great basis from which to reflect on your skills.
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